Dealing with Unsolicited Medical Advice
Through experience you gain knowledge. When you experience a life changing event, like buying a house, birthing a child, surviving an illness, etc., that knowledge you gain sticks with you forever because it affected your life in such a significant way, and if you had to go through that experience again, you would know exactly what to do. Another way to gain knowledge is to listen to the advice from those who have experienced what you have not. Most times that advice will come to you because you asked for it, and then there are times when it will come to you unsolicited, and depending on the situation, it can cause an emotional disruption even though it is completely out of your control. With a condition like PCOS, that has a laundry list of symptoms, it is best to be prepared for everyone to share with you what the best diet for belly fat is, that the face wash you are using is all wrong, or that all the nausea and crying could mean you might be pregnant.
Most of the time, this unsolicited advice is coming from a place of love. It is not meant to make you angry or sad, it is given because the person sees your suffering and speaks up about their own experiences in hopes of giving you another perspective and possibly another option that may make your suffering go away.
In my experiences, I found that there are 3 ways to deal with this situation. First one would be to smile and ignore it, let it roll off your shoulder. This is for when the advice comes from someone you don’t know and you receive it just in passing… you will never see this person again. Just like the woman who stopped me while I was walking my dog to tell me if I stop eating grapefruit, my acne will go away. “Oh thanks for the advice!” I say as I move along my way. There is no need to get angry or upset or teach this lady a lesson about hormonal acne. She was trying to help and I said thank you and it is up to me whether or not I want to follow her advice… I didn’t.
Another way to handle this situation is when the advice is coming from someone you know personally. Someone who you interact with on a regular basis, and someone who is giving you advice out of concern and love. This is when it comes time to start educating your peers and expressing your feelings about PCOS and how it makes you feel when you get medical advice. Give them some understanding on why you feel or look the way you do and what you have to do to manage it. As a woman with PCOS, having the sense of understanding from the people that you are close to feels really good. And depending on what kind of person they are, they will react in different ways to your PCOS lesson. Some may apologize, some may invest more of their time into learning about it, some will relate your story to someone else they know with PCOS, some may even think that what you are saying is total BS and that you NEED to try what they are advising you on, because they swear it works… whatever their reaction is, that is out of your control. Whether they show compassion or not is up to them, the only thing you can do is teach them as much as they will listen and take care of yourself as you and your doctor see fit.
Educating others about PCOS can be difficult, especially if you don’t know much about it yourself. So the 3rd option I offer is to just listen and use the advice they give you to educate yourself about PCOS. Just because the advice someone gives you may not work for you, it can still teach you something about your body. These people got their knowledge from their own experiences, so ask yourself, "Why did it help them and why wont it help me?" Searching for that answer may actually lead you to one.
Through the many years of dealing with anxiety from my PCOS, I have had to learn that some things are out of my control, and it is all about how I react to it. Receiving unsolicited medical advice is one of those things that is always going to happen, especially when you show the physical symptoms of PCOS. So take it in and just be the best you that you can be on your own terms.
Writer, Artist, PCOS Warrior
Jennifer is not a medical professional. Jennifer’s writing is an expression of her own personal experiences. Please contact your health provider for medical advice.